Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bath time reminiscing, new 'Baby by Earthwise' products...and a giveaway

When we had our first baby Amelie 6 and a half years ago I read Gina Ford's 'Contented Baby' book- a little bit of it when I was pregnant, and a lot after I had Amelie. She recommended a bedtime routine of feeding baby around 5, then doing the bath, then feeding baby again around 7. So we did as the book said and it seemed to work with us even though Amelie screamed blue murder from the second she was taken out of the bath until she was fully dressed but we kept it going because it was a way to keep her up for a bit longer before 'bedtime' and hey maybe the screaming wore her out so much she went to sleep easily...who knows but she was a good night sleeper from reasonably early on! So we stuck with that routine for her, and then for Stella and then Jack as well.  Probably because to be honest we were scared to change anything as whatever we were doing seemed to be working but also it is nice to have them all clean and smelling good at least once in the day! It's taken a lot of effort over the years, we have hardly ever missed them having a bath, I remember getting to a bach for a holiday when Amelie was about 6 months old and the hot water hadn't heated up in time for bath time so we filled up a plastic container using the kettle just so she could have her bath...I laugh now that we bothered -we must have really been paranoid that if she didn't have her bath she would somehow not sleep well all night! Anyway now that all 3 are older we still do the bath every night, it is the only time Jack is clean in the day and the 3 of them do have a good time in there most nights. There are certainly a lot of times when we really can't be bothered but I guess the routine is so ingrained in them now they just automatically get ready for the bath after dinner so they would probably spin out if we said no bath tonight (well Jack would anyway!) It's a hectic/loud/crazy time in our house and we are looking forward to them just being able to jump in the shower but I bet we'll still miss their little faces all squeezed in the bath together too :)

So when Hayley from Earthwise contacted me about reviewing some of the new plant based Earthwise Baby products I jumped at the chance- I already use their lavender laundry powder which I love. And I like that they are NZ based, environmentally friendly and have been around a while now- Earthwise was actually started 45 years ago! So here are the goodies I was sent to try out- the
Baby bath wash, Baby shampoo, Baby bubble bath, hair detangler, sleep spray, baby soap, plus some samples of their other soaps, bathroom and general use wipes, and their laundry and whitening powder.

From the Baby by Earthwise press release "Earthwise has developed their new range to be gentle on the skin, the result leaves skin and hair feeling divine with the love and nourishment Mother Nature intended.  The products are also gentle on the environment, all ingredients in Earthwise products are ethically and sustainably sourced, carefully selected to provide gentle natural cleaning properties while maintaining our earth. Baby by Earthwise is free from parabens, artificial colouring, toxic petrochemicals and laurel sulphates, it’s not tested on animals and made in New Zealand."

The kids loved the bubble bath- I don't actually use bubble bath very often so this was a treat for them, well until there were tears about who had the most bubbles and arguing over who got to sit in a certain place in the bath to get the most bubbles...but as bubble bath goes it has a nice subtle scent, plenty of bubbles and is a good price for the amount in the container- $7.49 at Countdown for 275mls
The bath wash and shampoo were great too, again a nice subtle scent, cute containers and a reasonable price for the amount you get.
The hair detangler has a been a big hit- I mentioned on Facebook that I went hunting for this a while ago and could only find one with a very strong strawberry scent so this one is much nicer!
The sleep spray was popular with the kids as they liked spraying their pillowcases themselves although they did go a bit crazy with it and ended up with rather damp pillowcases! It would be nice to freshen up a baby's bassinet or cot sheets or even the actual bedroom.
So all in all I will definitely be buying these products in the future, on price alone they are the same if not cheaper than what I normally buy, and much cuter too!

So if you would like to win your own pack of Earthwise baby products just leave a comment here or over on my Facebook page either telling me what you do for bathtime in your family or just leave a comment saying you'd like to win the prize- but be quick... you've got until midday tomorrow- Friday 27th Sep to leave your comment. This giveaway is for NZ readers only sorry. I will be giving the winners details to Hayley at Earthwise and she will be sending out your prize :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Picture Books for 5 year olds

A mousehouse reader Stephanie asked me last night for some ideas for good picture books for her 5 year old daughter who has started reading by herself but would still like to listen and read along to some picture books as well. My 6 year old likes to read her own books now (waaaaay too much Rainbow Magic) plus other short chapter books and her readers from school, but as she shares a room with Stella (4) she still loves listening to picture books as well. So here are some of Amelie and Stella's favourite picture books- most of the these are also the tried and true ones I grab if I am doing a days relieving in a classroom- all of them are popular with boys and girls around the 5/6 age group but there are a couple that particuarly appeal to girls from this list. 

Colour the Stars by Dawn McMillan- this is a lovely story about a little boy who is blind and his friend who teaches him what stars look like

Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen- this is really a cute story that kids love with lovely illustrations

I Had a Favourite Dress by Boni Ashburn- this is one for the girls all about a girl who has a favourite dress and as she outgrows it her mum sews it into different items- Amelie loves this

A Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy- a classic story written in the 70's and still just as popular today- I love this story

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr- another classic story by a wonderful author

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson- this is Amelie and Stella's (and mine) favourite picture book at the moment- such a cute story, lovely illustrations and a good book to read aloud

Princess, Fairy by Penny Dale- Stella's favourite- I'm pretty sure it is a take on the fairy tale The Frog Prince but with the very appealing characters to young girls princesses and fairies!

The Princess and her Panther by Wendy Orr- another book Stella lovese especially about 2 sisters who dress up and have an adventure using their imagination

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion- another classic story I think written in the 50's or 60's- a lovely story of a dog who really doesn't like having a bath, lovely retro illustrations

The Smallest Turtle by Lynley Dodd- always a good one to read aloud, lovely simple story with beautiful language- hard to find online though :(

What good luck What bad luck by Remy Charlip-  I found this at an Op Shop- when I read it to a class of 6 year olds they absolutely loved it and wanted me to read it again straight away! Can also be found printed as 'Unfortunately'. 

The Nickel Nackle Tree by Lynley Dodd-a neat counting book, again with great language and illustrations- appeals to all ages

Mouse Mansion By Karina Schaapman- this isn't a picture book as such, more a chapter book presented in a picture book format- Amelie loves this book especially the detailed photos

Well I know there are so many other wonderful picture books out there but these are the ones I could think of straight away- would love to hear of any of your or your child's favourite picture books too.

The other stories I would recommend reading is any fairy tales you can get your hands on- op shops seem to always have one or two when I take a look.
Albert Einstein Quote - Fairy Tales - Cross Stitch PDF Pattern Download. $4.00, via Etsy.

These are some of my favourite ones...

Dick Whittington
The Elves and the Shoemaker
The Emperors New Clothes
The Frog Prince
The Gingerbread Man
The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Little Match Girl
The Little Mermaid
Little Red Riding Hood
The Ugly Duckling
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
The Princess and the Pea
The Dancing Princesses
Snow White
Stone Soup
The Boy who cried Wolf

I'll write another blog post with some of my favourite chapter books as well, basically anything by Michael Morpurgo plus a few of my other favourites :)

Happy reading!
Megan x

Monday, September 23, 2013

A housewarming party-nibbles and drinks ideas

We had a a fun night on Sat for our housewarming party so I thought I'd share some of the finger food/appetizers and drinks we did for the party in case you are thinking of having a party or wanting to bring some nibbles to someone elses!



* 2 x crostini- I bought a bag of crostini already made but if I was doing them again I would try and make them myself in advance, the ones we bought were too small and way too crunchy we both thought, although they all did get eaten!

Our crostini toppings...

- Olive tapenade with chopped up cherry tomatoes and shaving of parmesan
- Sundried capsicum tapenade with little square of feta and basil leaf

Cheese ball and crackers, crostini

* Cheese ball and crackers-I made my first ever cheese ball after seeing Vanessa's on her blog ages ago- it was yum and nice and easy too thanks Vanessa!- here is her recipe

*nibbles platter- Lisa's kumara and pumpkin dip, chips, pita bread crisps, bagel bites, green stuffed olives, capsicum slices

*Blini's- cream cheese, salmon and dill blini's- you can buy blini's frozen at Nosh or the supermarket if you don't want to make them yourself- we bought them and they were great


* 'Scrummy Scroodles'
These are tasty little savoury muffin type treats that a friends mother in law gave me the recipe for. I made them on Friday and they just got heated up in the oven during the party. Here is the recipe

1/2 cup chopped bacon    
2 cups grated cheese
1 pkt onion and bacon soup
1 cup flour
1tsp baking powder
500g sour cream

Mix all ingredients. Bake for approx 20 mins in mini muffin pans at 180deg.  Freezes well.

It made me at least 36 mini muffins but I don't think I put quite enough filling in each muffin hole so next time I would put more mixture in so would probably get about 24-30 from this recipe.

*Samosa's and spring rolls

I didn't get a photo of these but we served these Shore Mariner vegetable samosa's and spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce- these are always a popular thing to serve at a gathering! They're at the supermarket and Nosh, there are other brands that do them as well but this brand was recommended to me.

Shore Mariner Samosas Cocktail Vegetable
Shore Mariner Spring Rolls Cocktail Vegetable Minis

Sundried tomato and feta dip with chilli and lime wedges- we were going to do these later in the evening as well but didn't in the end...
Sundried Tomato & Feta Dip with Chilli & Lime Wedges
We also had a few friends bring some delicious nibbles- my sister did pork belly cut up into bite sized chunks which was a BIG hit, and another friends hubby Andy made mini caesar salads on those little serving dishes which were really tasty- cute idea too to make an appetiser from a meal! Wish I'd taken a photo but they sort of looked like the mini caesar salads below but he served each one on one of these little serving dishes -I couldn't find them online in NZ but these are the exact ones Andy used
mini caesar salad boats...great party starters...teeny salad bites!
Black Plastic Mini Tear Drop Dish - 10 Per Pack

* Bubbles, wine and beer-I set up our dining table with glasses with a few bins underneath for empties.

* Apple, ginger and cranberry mocktail for the drivers/pregnant ladies- I used this recipe without the vodka To keep the cocktail cold without it going watery I made ice cubes out of the apple juice and the cranberry juice. I added a few sprigs of mint as well.

* Vodka Jellies- these are always a fun thing to bring out later in the evening- I made some and my friend made some too- here's my 'recipe' for them

1 packet jelly
One and a half cups boiling water
Half a cup vodka

Mix the jelly and the boiling water, when cooled add the half cup of vodka then place in the fridge to set. If you want to make them stronger use 1 cup boiling water and 1 cup vodka.

Makes approx 22 30ml jellies (you can buy the plastic shot glasses from the supermarket)

So there you go, some ideas for your next gathering :) Have a great week!

Monday, September 2, 2013

a reversible playmat

A couple of weeks ago I came across this fab idea to make a farm playmat on a great new crafty blog
'Peekaboo! Make and Do'.  Jan who writes the blog is also a teacher and she has lots of really great ideas on her blog and facebook page

Here is Jan's cute one...
I really love having toys that encourage imaginative and independent play and this is one of those- all you need to add is a few toy animals, a tractor or two and whatever else you can find with a bit of a farm theme (we had a Fisher Price Little People Farm Set which came in handy). I got the animals from a shop here in Tauranga, AJ's Emporium, you can probably find them at Dollar Value type stores as well, or search Trademe.

I made this mat pretty quickly- if I don't need to measure and pin things I generally don't- kids don't mind if squares don't exactly line up and the mat is a little wonky on one side!  
As I was sewing my squares together I was thinking what to use to sew on to the back of the playmat and then I had a brainwave to use a car mat I bought from Payless Plastics a while ago. (The car mat is a laminated fabric that you just buy off the roll in store).  So one side farm, one side cars= 2 happy children :)
Most of the fabrics for the farm playmat I already had (this project is a great one to use up some of your scrap fabric stash) but I did get a couple of fat quarters from Bernina as well-they had a corn field one which was great plus a grass one and a stony pebble one which was good for the 'pig sty'. 
Thanks again Jan for the great idea, it was fun to do a bit of sewing again.  And I'll be sharing another post with some more of my favourite toys for little ones soon :)

Thanks for reading,
Megan x

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